SPRINGFIELD – Governor Pat Quinn today announced that Illinois has taken the next step to procure approximately 35 high-performance diesel-electric locomotives for several Midwestern and West Coast states, to be funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is leading the multi-state locomotive procurement, with a notice of award expected by early 2014. Meanwhile, passenger rail ridership in Illinois has surged dramatically in the past several years, supporting Governor Quinn’s agenda to increase passenger traffic while the nation’s high speed rail system is developed.
“These new locomotives will put the ‘speed’ in high speed rail, and Illinois is ideally situated at the forefront of the national push for high speed rail service,” Governor Quinn said. “We are proud to lead the multi-state procurement effort for these state-of-the-art machines and look forward to the day when they will be pulling passenger trains through Illinois.”
“When we make smart investments in rail, we are investing in America,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. “Our Buy America provisions ensure that the major components of these locomotives will be built with American hands and with American-produced steel, iron, and manufactured goods.”
“We are thrilled to have reached this very important juncture in this process,” said Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider. “We are excited to have secured Illinois’ role as a national leader in high-speed rail and we look forward to working with our partners to help move this multi-state procurement forward.”
Today IDOT issued a Request for Proposals to procure approximately 35 high-speed locomotives for Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Iowa, Washington and California. In March the Federal Railroad Administration recommended that Illinois lead this multi-state procurement of next-generation locomotives, part of the $808 million the FRA has allocated to manufacture the next generation of passenger rail equipment which also includes 130 bi-level rail cars.
Today’s rail procurement news comes as passenger rail ridership in Illinois is experiencing a tremendous upswing. Ridership on key Amtrak routes in the state has surged over the last seven years. Passenger volume on the Chicago to St. Louis route is up 225 percent; Chicago to Carbondale is up 154 percent; Chicago to Quincy is up 95 percent; and Chicago to Milwaukee is up 42 percent.
“Several years ago, with ridership on passenger trains continuing to climb in the U.S., I saw an opportunity to bring the rail car manufacturing industry back to the U.S. and back to Illinois,” U.S. Senator Richard J. Durbin said. “I spearheaded an effort in Congress to repair Amtrak’s aging fleet of passenger cars, bring rehabilitated cars to Illinois and revive the train car industry in the United States. While a century ago the domestic railcar giant Pullman Company provided a strong manufacturing base in Illinois, today Illinois is home to the nation’s largest rail supply industry. I applaud FRA’s decision to name IDOT as the lead in the multi-state locomotive procurement process and to bring good paying jobs to the United States while advancing cleaner, cheaper, and greener transportation options.”
IDOT was involved last year in a multi-state procurement of the 130 next-generation bi-level rail cars for high-speed service, an effort led by California. That procurement resulted in the selection of Sumitomo/Nippon-Sharyo, which is building the rail cars from its plant in Rochelle, Illinois, including the 88 cars to be used on Midwest high-speed corridors. The Rochelle plant opened in 2012 and has created more than 250 jobs in Illinois.
Illinois debuted 110-mph service on a segment of the Chicago-St. Louis corridor from Dwight to Pontiac in November 2012 and will expand 110-mph service to 75 percent of the route by 2015. The FRA in December provided a Record of Decision on the entire Chicago-St. Louis corridor, allowing Illinois to begin in-depth corridor segment studies and specific project studies to move toward high-speed service on the other 25 percent of the corridor as soon as possible, including segments from Joliet to Chicago and from Alton to St. Louis. The segment from Dwight to Joliet is under development and is expected to offer 110-mph service in 2017.
Illinois also is working closely with the state of Michigan to establish 110-mph service from Chicago to Detroit as the next Midwest segment targeted to run at higher speeds.
Documents for those interested in submitting proposals for the high-speed locomotive procurement may be found at www.dot.il.gov/desenv/transprocbulletin.html. A vendor conference will take place on August 22, with proposals due in October and a notice of award by early 2014.
FRA’s High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program and its Buy America plan implement America’s “Vision for High-Speed Rail in America,” which includes a goal to bolster American passenger rail expertise and resources.